Felipe Massa has acknowledged that a bad start to the 2012 season could cost him his race seat at Ferrari.
Team bosses Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo have stated openly that they are looking around at the alternatives should Brazilian Massa – a Ferrari driver since 2006 – continue his sub-standard form this year.
“I am well aware that in some ways, the first part of the season will be more important than the second,” Massa told reporters at Ferrari’s pre-season winter event in the Italian Dolomites. “When we reach the mid-point of the season, we will talk about my future and see what are the chances of continuing to work with Ferrari.
Even amid news of his newly broken right leg, Robert Kubica’s name is reportedly near the top of the shortlist to succeed Massa – and Fernando Alonso gave the recovering Pole a vote of confidence this week.
“Robert is the best driver around and he will prove that when he returns to racing,” said the Spaniard, who was then asked if he can imagine friend Kubica as his 2013 teammate.
Alonso insisted: “I am very happy to have Felipe alongside me.”
But the veteran Brazilian will only be there if he is up to speed by mid-season, when Ferrari will make a decision so that Massa has time to find an alternate seat.
“Competitive teams always decide their plans ahead of time,” agreed Massa.